My goodness, was he gorgeous!! A handsome young man, extremely well-groomed, with fantastic hair. His beard was well-trimmed, and he had a large smile. I could just about resist the temptation to apply some lipstick, he did outshine me just a little. I should have done that before I got out of the Pink Lady. Mental note to self, be prepared for the future.
I think I was in for a pleasant experience.
My Mr Handsome asked me if I preferred to sit outside in a sunny place or inside in an extremely calm and quiet atmosphere. I wanted some liveliness and chose outside. And I could follow Mr H just that bit longer and admire him…..
“If the service outside is the same as inside…” I smiled suggestively.
“But of course,” he said, a twinkle in his eye. “Let me lead the way”.
“I can’t wait.” I mumbled to myself.
I was ushered to my table and Maurice pulled back a chair for me to sit on. (Such a gentleman) and I sank onto a lovely thick cushion in what can only be described as an armchair.
“What apéritif can I serve you?” he charmed at me.
“Oh, I think I will have a Kir Royale, peut-être? What do you suggest?”
“Parfait. Crème de Cassis and Crémant de Bourgogne.”
I could imagine the drink before it arrived. Two glasses, one for Mr Handsome, the other for me!
A few minutes later, he floated to my table, balancing a tray, my solitary glass and something to nibble on. And the menu card.
“Enjoy,” he said.
The choice was small (which is good), but the dishes were unique. Time to go into battle.
Consommé de légumes au foie gras, crêtes et rognons de coq.
Escargots au beurre d’escargots.
Tarte Tatin aux pêches des vignes.
I did notice a smile of appreciation when I gave Maurice my order.
“Excellent choice,” he said. “Our suppliers are local and well sourced.” he continued.
“I am curious.” I replied.
“So am I.” he said. “May I suggest I choose the wine for you?”
“I place my faith in your hands.” I replied.
“Very good. You won’t be disappointed.”
I was enjoying this.
My consommé arrived in an elegant white porcelain shallow soup bowl. The aroma was pleasant, and my eyes started eating before I could taste the contents. Turnips, carrots, and celery were all floating in the stock. The foie gras was delicately placed in the middle of the bowl. The kidneys and the crests were draped around the side. It was a feast for the eyes and the nose. But the taste?
This soup is not to everyone’s liking. In a ladylike manner, I dipped the side of my spoon in the stock and let some liquid flow onto it. It tasted divine. I decided to cut a morsel of the foie gras, let it rest in some stock on the spoon ……….and it melted on my tongue. It was perfect. The kidneys were as if I had done them myself, soft and spongy. Finally, the cockerel crests. I was surprised to see they were white. I took a bite, the taste was, let us say, “special”, a little rubbery, like chicken flavoured Gummibears. But the magic was in the combination of all the ingredients.
Maurice asked if I enjoyed the soup, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to ask where the cockerel combs came from.
He grinned appreciatively. I think he was beginning to understand that I was not just a dumb blonde with too much money.
“Shall I serve the escargots?”
“If you wouldn’t mind.”
I wasn’t expecting what arrived. The snails were in small individual earthenware escargotières. I didn’t want to ask how they were prepared, but I did notice the eschalots and a trace of hazelnuts with the garlic butter. I asked if this was true, and Maurice replied that it is the chef’s speciality.
There was a hint of acknowledgement in Maurice’s eyes that he had understood that I was the mistress of my game. Perhaps, I was a restaurant critic. But he certainly became even more attentive. The smile had become more captivating.
“Are the snails local?” I asked.
“Of course,” he answered, “they come from a farm about half an hour from here.”
“At the speed of a snail or of a human?”
“Both”, he replied, “we like to do things slowly here.”
Maurice had a sense of humour, it seems.
He kept me waiting for my main course! How could I convince this young man to reveal more about where the food came from? So, I had time to cook up a plan.
When Maurice brought the Boeuf, I immediately knew, somebody had been thinking of me.
My plate arrived, white porcelain, an iridescent curl of tagliatelle on the rim of the plate met with the delicious combination of meat, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and wine. The aroma was fantastic. I didn’t know where to begin for my first bite.
The cubes of meat were of a decent size, tender and juicy, and they had been sealed properly.
I could taste each ingredient individually, but it was their combination which made this meal pure heaven. It was “un vrai beouf bourguignon”.
When the Chef came to see if I was happy, I couldn’t resist the temptation.
“Two hours precisely?” I asked.
“Not a second more,” he replied.
“Perfect” I smiled.
“I know”, he smiled back.
I wistfully looked at my empty glass of Nuits St Georges. “You wouldn’t have another drop for a woman in distress, would you?”
But Maurice had already sensed my needs, (bless him, he is so sweet), and poured a mouthful into the glass for me to close this stage of my meal.
As Maurice removed my plate, our eyes met, as my unspoken question about the source of the meat made its way to him.
“Yes, it is.” he replied.
“Can one go there?”
“Not without an introduction.”, Maurice replied.
“How can one obtain such an exquisite date?”
“Leave it to me.” he said.
“With pleasure.”, I answered. It seemed tomorrow would be an eventful day.
Sweet times had arrived. The white plate offered the perfect contrast to the intensely red pêches des vignes.
I saw the caramelised sugar over the fruit, in the middle my ball of vanilla ice cream with an extremely delicate shortbread rising dramatically from its middle. Drops of caramel adorned the rim of the plate.
I missed the dough, but when I dipped my spoon, it emerged from its hiding place under the fruit. The combination of lukewarm fruit touching the cold ice cream was sensational.
I forewent the wine (Maurice and the red wine were enough to make my head spin) and requested a coffee.
“I made a few enquiries,” Maurice said, as he put the coffee cup on the table.
“Really? How thoughtful of you.”
“Yes, if you wish, we can meet with Chef at Jean’s farm tomorrow afternoon.”
My lucky day, two for the price of one. How could I say no?
“That would be lovely.” I whispered, reddening just ever so slightly.
“Why don’t you come back after service tomorrow? We will have everything organised for you.”
“You are such a gentleman.”, I thought to myself.
Maurice handed me the check, a slightly hesitant look crossing his eyes.
“Pardon me. I don’t wish to be indiscreet, but would you mind….?”
“No, I am not a critic.”, I replied, “I have my own catering company in the southwest.”
“Ah,” he said with a sigh of relief, “that is good news”.
“Yes, it makes you one of us”.
“Of course!” I replied.
“You performed your role perfectly.” he said.
“And you are perfectly natural.” I replied. “I am looking forward to the next chapter.”
“So am I.”
With that, I walked out to the Pink Lady.